Cerro Gordo Legion post sets dedication
CERRO GORDO — Cerro Gordo American Legion Post 117 has been using its new building at 220 E. Wait St. since last fall, but will wait until Saturday to formally dedicate it.
"We chose the date because it's Armed Services Day — it's particularly significant for a lot of people," said Post 117 finance director Gary Shaffer, Cerro Gordo's former police chief of 35 years.
The dedication ceremony begins at 1 p.m. and will honor the post's World War II veterans and feature former state commander Roger Bennett as the keynote speaker. A local band will also present a free concert at 8 p.m.
Legion members raised $140,000 to renovate the former grocery store, which doubles the post's square footage when compared to its former facility. The new home includes a banquet hall that can seat 150, bar area, office and storage. It is also handicapped-accessible.
"We wanted a bigger banquet hall so people could have their wedding receptions, birthday parties, graduation parties," said Post Commander Wayne Handley, a veteran of the Army and one of 147 dues-paying members of Post 117.
The post was originally set to build on 1.92 acres on the southern edge of town, but felt it was more economically feasible to gut and remodel the former grocery store when it became available. They officially took ownership in 2012 and since that time have held a variety of fundraisers — reverse raffles that raised up to $10,000 each, 50/50 drawings, and more fish and chicken fries than post members can remember.
The effort has also shown off the loyalty of its members, even if only half of them still live in the area. Members from as far as California answered the call to donate $1,000 to the cause.
"It's a matter of pride, and any time they come back, they know that this place is available," Shaffer said.